Key Verse: “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9: NKJV)
1-3 Well, I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out. Here’s what I understood: The good, the wise, and all that they do are in God’s hands—but, day by day, whether it’s love or hate they’re dealing with, they don’t know.
Anything’s possible. It’s one fate for everybody—righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted. I find this outrageous—the worst thing about living on this earth—that everyone’s lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That’s it.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 9:2)
“The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone” means that all will eventually die.
4-6 Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” The living at least know something, even if it’s only that they’re going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They’re a minus that no one remembers. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There’s not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.
7-10 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10)
Considering the uncertainties of the future and the certainty of death, Solomon recommends enjoying life as God’s gift.
He may have been criticizing those who put off all present pleasures in order to accumulate wealth, much like those who get caught up in today’s rat race.
Solomon asks, “What is your wealth really worth, anyway?”
Because the future is so uncertain, we should enjoy God’s gifts while we are able.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10)
When Solomon says the dead know nothing and that there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom after death, he is not contrasting life with the afterlife, but life with death.
After you die, you can’t change what you have done.
Resurrection to a new life after death was a vague concept for Old Testament believers.
It was only made clear after Jesus rose from the dead.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 9:10-11)
It isn’t difficult to think of cases where the fastest and the strongest don’t win, the wise are poor, and the skillful are unrewarded with wealth or honor.
Some people see such examples and call life unfair, and they are right.
The world is finite, and sin has twisted life, making it what God did not intent.
Solomon is trying to reduce our expectations.
The book of Proverbs emphasizes how life would go if everyone acted fairly.
Ecclesiastes explains what usually happens in our sinful and imperfect world.
We must keep our perspective.
Don’t let the inequities of life keep you from earnest, dedicated work.
We serve God, not people. (See Colossians 3:23)
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 9:9)
Solomon also wrote a proverb about marriage.
“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).
How sad it would be to be married and not appreciate or enjoy the companion God has given you.
11 I took another walk around the neighborhood and realized that on this earth as it is—
The race is not always to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor satisfaction to the wise,
Nor riches to the smart,
Nor grace to the learned.
Sooner or later bad luck hits us all.
12 No one can predict misfortune.
Like fish caught in a cruel net or birds in a trap,
So men and women are caught
By accidents evil and sudden.